I often find myself fascinated with the rate of change that occurs, not only within our industry, but also within society. It entertains me to listen to all of the banter about how Millennials (people born between 1982 and 2000) are going to be the downfall of the world as we know it. I consistently hear about how they are lazy, transient and that they don’t know how to communicate.
Now when I say I find it entertaining, I don’t mean because I agree with it. In fact, I couldn’t disagree more. I personally believe people who spew this nonsense are saying much more about themselves than they are about the group of people they are characterizing. Now before you send me hate mail, take me off of your Christmas card list, and start leading a protest against MINDSCAPE with a pitchfork in your hand … let me explain.
First of all, perhaps we should all stop being so judgmental. Just because someone (or a group of people) do things differently than we do, it doesn’t mean they don’t know how to do it. It’s this exact type of thinking that causes the majority of the chaos in the world.
I for one, have been amazed at the way technology is advancing and essentially making the world a smaller place. I mean, today 40% of the world's population has an internet connection compared to 1995, when less than 1% did . It was crazy to me when I saw my 11 month old grab my phone and start swiping through pictures before he was able to comprehend that he was holding a phone. It’s like he was born with these technical instincts.
Don’t feel too bad. I’m sure when the automobile was invented there were many late adopters who criticized the first car owners for not choosing to continue to ride their horse and buggy to the “office” in the morning as well.
It’s a Choice to Remain Relevant
Let’s just cut through the crap and dig deep. The main reason people get stuck in the trap of judging people who do things differently than they do, is because they don’t understand it themselves. The more prevalent the new way becomes, the more scared these individuals get about not being able to keep up.
This fear typically plays out in a couple different ways. The most positive way is acceptance, where the person accepts it as a substantive change and chooses to adapt to the new way and add to their skill set. The other way is when the individual judges, digs their feet in, and stays that way while hoping that everything returns to the “norm” as they’ve come to know it.
When I look at the generational challenges that are magically playing out before our eyes, I am extremely thankful that we were put on this earth as adaptable creatures who can figure out almost any challenge that is placed in front of us. The biggest reason I am thankful is because things aren’t going back to the way they “used to be.” Millennials play a large role in this move forward.
Millennials are the largest segment of the population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, these individuals now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the population. So it's no surprise that they will be setting the rules, and creating the new “norm” that we’ll all be operating within. Like I said initially, it’s our choice whether we want to remain relevant or not.
Parallels Within Marketing
I’m sure as a marketing professional you can see the parallels between the rate of change that’s occurring due to the generational shift, as well as the massive circumstantial changes digital has introduced to the world.
Marketers used to be in control of the message and because of this they had the ability to “manufacture a brand.” You also had to operate in a world where every single decision and step of your execution process needed to be scrutinized since once things “went to print” there was no changing. Heck, you could even make a massive blunder and it could often go completely un-noticed since the offended party didn’t have the ability to easily bring that blunder to light.
We all know times have changed. It’s time to recognize we’re quite possibly operating within parameters that are significantly different and extremely uncomfortable because they aren’t what we’ve grown accustomed to over time.
We too are now at a similar fork in the road where we’ll be forced to choose a path. Either we’ll dig our feet in and kick and hold our breath like a toddler who hopes this will help them get their way, or we’ll use the incredible skills we have baked into our DNA as human beings and choose to learn and adapt to the new way.
Although it’s not easy, I’d say it’s pretty obvious which path has the potential of providing the best results.
Ok, now that I’ve laid out my entire case, I welcome your hate mail or whatever comments you may have. Please leave them below. Thanks for listening and please … no pitchforks!